Cricket: Middlesex's Bamber relishes big stage
PUBLISHED: 15:30 23 August 2018
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Middlesex’s Ethan Bamber departed from his family’s well-worn path into the film industry in favour of sporting adventure.
But judging by his County Championship debut against Northamptonshire this week, when it comes to lights, camera, action, the England U19 seamer isn’t afraid to be centre-stage.
Bamber, son of actors David (Bamber) and Julia Swift, claimed his maiden first-class wicket when bowling centurion Ricardo Vasconcelos in the first innings.
Three more followed in the second ‘act,’ as he proved the perfect support cast for Tim Murtagh, allowing Middlesex to win after following on for the first time since 1924.
While revelling in the moment, the Westminster-born teenager knows there’s work ahead before he becomes a regular Middlesex A-lister.
“It was a very special feeling to be asked to play – it’s all still a bit surreal to be honest,” he said.
“I was just warming up doing my stretches in the morning when ‘Mala’ (Dawid Malan) came over and told me that I was in.
“I came straight up the stairs to text my dad and my brother, who came down to watch, before trying to get in the right place mentally.
“My first wicket was very special too as I’d bowled quite a lot of dross up to that point and was feeling quite frustrated with myself.
“There are a lot of injuries at the moment, but generally at a club like Middlesex there is a lot of fast-bowling stock, so I’m really fortunate to have played in this game.
“Obviously, I’d love to nail down a regular spot, but I’ve got a long way to go, so thinking like that is probably dangerous in the sense it’s getting too far ahead of myself.”
Bamber explains that following the family business into the world of stage and screen was never an option for him.
“I’m terrible at acting - even in school plays and stuff I was rubbish,” he revealed. “I would just laugh all the time.”
Refreshingly, he’s equally honest about his early ventures into cricket. His is not the story it seems of always being the best player in his age-group – quite the reverse in fact.
“I played a lot of sport and I loved cricket but wasn’t particularly good at it,” he said. “Well, perhaps I thought I was good, but I wasn’t.”
It was brother Theo, seven years Ethan’s senior and a good age-group cricketer, who nurtured what proved to be latent talent.
This, coupled with Bamber Jnr’s determination to enjoy the sport for its own sake and make the best of himself, eventually provoked a leap forward for a late developer duly snapped up by the Middlesex academy.
He then made a late run for a place in the England squad for last winter’s ICC Under-19s World Cup in New Zealand, where he formed an effective new-ball partnership with Worcestershire’s Dillon Pennington – and made a number of unexpected televised appearances of his own.
“I always loved playing, so that was the main thing and when I got into the academy at Middlesex I made the decision to work as hard as I could,” he said.
“I told myself the worst that could happen would be I’d end up not being a cricketer, but it wouldn’t be through lack of hard work, just that I wasn’t good enough.
“That attitude helped me because it gave me a little bit of perspective and meant every step forward was like a win really.”
Ironically, mentor Theo, like mum and dad, would go on to tread the boards and pursue his gift of music, leaving Bamber to journey on into the first-class game.
So, what are the next steps on that long road to a regular place in the Middlesex first XI for a 19-year-old still combining cricket with Theological Studies at Exeter University?
“I’ve talked with ‘Johnno’ (Richard Johnson) a lot about up-skilling,” he added.
“I’m working on my pace, but that is probably not what I’m renowned for.
“Skills-wise it is about being able to control movement on the ball, use of the crease and working on my action.”